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Major(s): Art History & Art – Digital Media
Program: Temple University
When: Fall 2007
Favorite Course: Galleries & Studios
Highlight: The teachers
Best Excursion: 3 Days in Florence
Favorite Dish: Gnocchi
Next Destination: Belgium or France
What did you learn to love about the culture(s)?
I’m a huge coffee drinker, so I was excited about experiencing the ways in which coffee is prepared in different cultures. Here is what I found: Florence had the best tasting espresso. I visited a café called Bar Rivoire in the center of Piazza Della Signoria. I got a doppio macchiato. I suggest trying it without sugar first so that you can really appreciate the taste. It was the smoothest espresso I have ever had. During my ten-day vacation in Greece, I tried “Greek coffee.” This was quite the experience; I ordered mine right after having dinner at a lovely restaurant in the Plaka district of Athens. The espresso is made from a very finely ground coffee, and is served to you in a little demitasse cup. Here’s the kick: the grounds are left in the cup, making for a really sludgy texture, an acquired taste. The espresso in Rome was consistently good-- even the automated machine at Temple Rome produces shots that rival the best espresso in the states.
How has this experience changed you?
Although, I’ve only been around for twenty-one years, I can confidently say that I will always consider my time abroad to be one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was the beginning of so much for me. During my time abroad I visited Berlin, Prague, Venice, Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Naples, Florence, London, Liverpool, Dublin, Cork and Rome. I slept in over sixteen different beds (hostels, friends, etc), I used three different forms of currency, boarded ten different planes, three ferries, and more trains than I can remember. I should mention that these were not one-day in and out trips; I spent at least three days in each city I visited. I mention all of this to provide some perspective on my endeavors and their impact. During my travels, all of my experiences were positive and pleasing. My primary goals for this experience were to have fun and to learn as much as possible – about my surroundings and myself. In achieving these goals, I was able to realize that people – despite our cultural differences – are very similar. I realized that with traveling comes peace of mind, especially when one learns to stop having so many expectations and to just “go with the flow.” Ultimately, this experience changed my life because it exposed me to new aspects of living, aspects that continue to influence my way of thinking about the world.
What is one piece of advice you would pass on to a student who is about to study abroad?
Don’t over-pack. I had to discard a lot of clothing at the airport, because I didn’t want to pay the extra fees for my baggage. I found that I didn’t need half the clothing I packed. You should try to be as strategic as possible about the things you take. Remember to leave things behind that can be brought when your family members visit.
How did you fund your study abroad experience?
My tuition was funded through a combination of scholarships and grants, while I worked during the summer to save money for personal expenses. I also managed to get a work-study position in the library, working about 3 hours a week. This really helped to defray the cost of coffee and lunch. I highly recommend that students with work-study visit Pia, the wonderful librarian.
Submit a piece of your writing that you feel captures an important aspect of your study abroad experience (part of an essay, journal, blog, etc.).
One of the highlights of my experience abroad was lecturing to my baroque art class on the church of Santa’Andrea delle Fratte. To prepare, I conducted research and made numerous visits to the church in order to thoroughly examine Francesco Borromini’s work on the façade, dome and belfry. I remember with great pleasure, standing at the top of Via Capo Le Case, with my back toward the church, lecturing to my peers as they gazed over my head to view the elements of the church’s design. This experience was quite gratifying; it was the first completely autonomous opportunity I had to interpret history and educate my peers on these findings. It was a glimpse of the future that I desire as a student committed to exploring the arts.